Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is deployed to the east coast of the United States for her maiden F-35 Lightning flying trials. Joined by her task group, including HMS Monmouth, it marks the first time F-35 stealth jets have flown from the carrier’s flight deck. As well as the vital deck trials, the deployment also involves exercises to prove the ship’s ability to operate with other nations’ ships and aircraft. The 65,000-tonne carrier will embark two F-35 test aircraft, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF), based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. Around 200 supporting staff, including pilots, engineers, maintainers and data analysts will be joined by two ‘orange wired’ test aircraft, belonging to the ITF, which are expected to conduct 500 take offs and landings during the trials. The aim of these initial, or ‘developmental’ trials are to ascertain, through the specially equipped aircraft and sensors around the ship, the operating parameters of the aircraft and ship, in a range of conditions. Similar successful trials were conducted by HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea earlier this year for Rotary Wing aircraft.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. Capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft, this awe-inspiring warship will enter the naval service in 2020. As well as state-of-the-art weaponry and communications systems, HMS Queen Elizabeth boasts a cinema, a games room, and five gyms. There’s also a chapel and medical centre with three GPs and a dentist. The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres, and will be used to launch the fearsome new F-35 Lightning fast jet. Two fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in the space of just one minute. The ship’s two propellers weigh 33 tonnes each. Together, they generate enough power to run 1000 family cars. HMS Queen Elizabeth is on track to deploy on global operations from 2021. Meanwhile, the UK has now taken delivery of 16 out of a planned 138 F-35 jets as part of its world-leading fleet of military aircraft for use by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
The Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will project British military power across the globe for the next half a century. Construction work continues at a pace on board HMS Prince of Wales, the second aircraft carrier in the class, which nears completion at the Rosyth shipbuilding yard. They will be used to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, strengthen defence relationships with our nation’s allies, and support British armed forces deployed around the world. In recent operations, US aircraft carriers including the USS George HW Bush and USS Harry S Truman have played a central role in the Gulf and Mediterranean, conducting strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.